Re-thinking the Haymarket 

Dear Editor,

The Haymarket is a valuable cultural asset. It is central, with easy parking, good access to public transport, disabled access, two bars, a kitchen, restaurant, and a stage – all currently under-utilised. 

It has potential as a day-and-night-time cultural space, which should play a key role in the top of town regeneration strategy in the light of catastrophic retail collapse. 

I suggest separating the Haymarket from the Anvil to create a new organisation. 

As an arts centre, the Haymarket should be a space for local performers, voluntary societies, amateur dramatics, and professional dramatics; a place where choirs can sing, where schools can showcase talent, hold school performances and proms, where colleges can celebrate graduations, a place to celebrate festivals, hold meetings, conferences or watch films, have birthday parties, anniversaries; a place to get married, play bingo or bridge. 

It should be a specialist music venue, a nightclub, host film and literary festivals. It is a stage for drama, poetry nights, comedy and dance. It should host professional touring productions, a venue for Proteus and local productions, children’s theatre, craft demonstrations, a platform for local societies. 

The Haymarket should be an art gallery, supporting a programme of artists in residence. 

It should certainly maximise revenue from the café, restaurant, cocktail bar and pre-show dinner facility. 

The new Haymarket will need political and economic support, sponsors, patrons and advocates, critical friends, comparators, a pro-active board and a manager who can prompt audience development encouraging sponsorship from business, individuals, grant-giving trusts, Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. 

We have an opportunity for a re-invented, dynamic Haymarket Arts Centre, becoming a central part of the expanding town’s cultural offer, similar to schemes in Andover and Stockport. 

Or the Haymarket becomes yet more apartments or retail outlets. 

Phil Howe BA (Hons) FHEA FRSA, Chequers Road, Basingstoke 

People not considerate

Dear Editor,

So many people who attended Al Murray at the Anvil last night (Saturday, September 4) chose to not wear face coverings.

I estimate around 60 per cent didn't wear them (from looking around the attendees) and they can't all have had a medical reason for not doing so. It's no longer a legal requirement but people need to realise the mask is mostly to stop spreading rather than avoid catching.

I did a home test (lateral flow test) before attending.

We were sent email asking us to wear face covering (which myself and my friend did) and so did people either side of us but in the rows behind and infront (less than 2m away) were not wearing them.

Hopefully most of those who attended will have been double jabbed and maybe many of those not wearing a face covering will also have taken the self-test at home.

Covid has NOT gone away and I believe it won't. We have to find a way to live with it and get back to normality. Crowded places with poor ventilation (which I believe is the case with the Anvil) are known to be most likely where it is spread. I think it's sad that those people are not considerate enough to take a simple precaution to help stop the spead.

Trevor Rose, South Ham Road

Winklebury Ring and development

Dear Editor,

I would like to point out a correction to the letter, ‘A VIVID plan to destroy a park, by Pat Horan, in last week’s paper. 

To quote, "Vivid cannot build on this protected land" – I take it that this refers to the listing by Historic England, 1003559. The area "protected" is not the central field, but where the two ancient rings exist, or existed. If you take a look at the listing map, you will see that since 1960 (when Clark estate was built) to the building of the local authority homes of 1970, that protection has been largely ignored. 

It was only when the school grounds required some holes to be dug in relation to the erection of a fence that an archaeologist had to be paid for to see if there was anything of interest there. Presumably, Vivid will have to be paying out on the areas that are due to be built on (The Bury House site etc).

There are places outside the proposed development area that ought to have a historical survey. Historic England will of course fine a farmer £100,000 for damaging a site such as this, but ignores this one. 

I have tried to get the protection area extended. Is anyone else interested ? The history of this area is very curious involving Earl Dartmouth and others.    

The reasons why this area is due to be built on is simple. Hampshire County Council and the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as always hard up, and as they do (or did ) own this area of land, any money from this development is much wanted. (The building on school sites has gone on for years, and not just in Basingstoke) 

The other reason is the new housing requirement figures issued by Boris Johnson's government, that local authorities are under pressure to fulfill. 

The Prime Minister’s dream is to get rid of whatever countryside we have left, and turn the South East of England into some type of Singapore. 

Basingstoke is arguably a victim of its own success. The dream of the London overspill development was to have lots of green spaces, and easy access to the countryside, which should in theory be within walking distance. Has this been forgotten?  

The interesting thing about VIVID (and other housing associations) is who is putting up the money for this. Does anyone know? Partly I suspect, it is money from councils from the North of England that could do with development themselves.

Paul FitzPatrick, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke 

Repair road or give us tax rebate

Dear Editor,

I have lived in Begonia Close for 37 years. The road surface is cracked and worn out with the sides of the roads down to the substrate in places.  The county council have stated that it will not do anything unless there are deep and dangerous potholes.  

Approximately 17 years ago, all the roads off Columbine Road were resurfaced, leaving out Daffodil and Begonia Closes. 

My contention is that residents have not received the standard of upkeep afforded to others in our part of Kempshott and therefore should be granted a rebate of council tax.  

Over the years, I have asked for the road to be brought up to standard several times.

There are many new houses and residential roads in Basingstoke. But if the council cannot keep up the standard of existing roads, that bodes ill for the future upkeep of the new ones.

My dealings with the county council have got nowhere and therefore I would appreciate local support for people living in neglected cul-de-sacs.

Susan Jannetta, Begonia Close

Story behind surnames

Dear Editor,

It is a long time since I had an article published in your paper on the subject of surnames and their origins. The last one brought many enquiries and I was told that more were welcome and would be considered for publication.

Medieval monarchs needed to tax people, so there was enough money to finance wars. So it made sense so they know that this has been done. It especially made sense if a village had 10 Johns or Peters for example.

Place names occupational names and from the father’s first name give rise to the majority of surnames.

But it is the rare and intriguing surnames that interest me the most. If a surname is really rare, the chances are that all the males with that surname are all related.

Charles Dickens included many real surnames in his novels. Barkis was the name of a coachman in Pickwick Papers. It means Barkhouse of Tannery where the hides of animals were tanned.

Pickwick is a place name from Wiltshire and Dickens personally knew a Moses Pickwick, a coachbuilder.

Snodgrass denotes an ancestor from Snodgrass in Ayrshire.

The surname Littleboy found in Basingstoke, like Littlejohn, could be a nickname for a very tall person. The rare Allwright also found in that area could derive from a Germanic Christian name.

The surname Latter found in Andover means lathe-maker.

One question I am asked sometimes is what are the chances of having royal blood.

The chances are greater than you think with possibly one in 300 people being descended from the illegitimate offspring of a medieval monarch.

Readers wishing to know more about the origin of their surnames can write to me. 

Richard J Kidd, 22 Texel Green, Augusta Park, Andover

Not just an odd mistake

Dear Editor,

I’d like to report an incident that occurred on the A339 at the crossroads of Bagmore Lane around 11am on Thursday, September 2.

I had just joined the A339 at Lasham having been to Avenue Nurseries. After waiting for the traffic to clear, I joined the A339 heading back towards Basingstoke and within a matter of less than half a mile (the turn off to The Fur & Feathers) I noticed a black BMW following my car close; ahead of me was a silver or grey transit van and a small car in front of that. It seemed that the BMW was “anxious” to get past me, but oncoming traffic was preventing that. 

Anyway, by the time I went around the left-hand bend towards Bagmore Lane junction (crossroads) the traffic our side was slowing and stopping. I noticed two vehicles coming from Basingstoke turning right into Bagmore Lane, so someone was being polite letting them turn. 

Then to my astonishment, the black BMW shot out from behind me and overtook all of us and dived across the junction in front of the small car. What an idiot. I knew he couldn’t get far as while I was waiting at the Lasham junction to get out a large lorry went through followed by other vehicles. So as we went down the steep hill he was stuck in between those vehicles, going nowhere fast. Anyway, if the police are interested, my Volvo XC60 has both front and rear dash cam fitted and the registration number of the BMW is BF57OMT. 

We all occasionally make the odd mistake when driving – human nature, but this clearly was something else.

Nigel Johnson, Basingstoke